View Full Version : And that's the truth......

05-20-2003, 04:00 PM
My friend John sent me this which has interesting history of some of
our colloquialisms.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting
to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house
had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and
men, then the women and finally the children - last of all the babies.
By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it -
hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw piled high, with no wood
underneath It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the
dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When
it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and
fall off the roof - hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed
a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could
really mess up your nice clean bed - hence, a bed with big posts and a
sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds
came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt,
hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would
get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on
the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept
adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start
slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway - hence,
a "thresh hold."

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that
always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things
to the pot They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They
would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get
cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had
food in it that had been there for quite a while - hence the rhyme,
"Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine
days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It
was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon." They would
cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew
the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content
caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning
and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400
years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of
the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along
the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They
were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family
would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would
wake up - hence the custom of holding a "wake."

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of
places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the
bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they
thought they would tie a
string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up
through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out
in the graveyard all night the "graveyard shift" to listen for the bell;
thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead

And that's the truth ... Who said that History was boring? ...

Dj Alex
05-20-2003, 06:10 PM
Fascinating stuff indeed ! .

Peace and thanks Alex . ;)

05-20-2003, 09:33 PM
Interesting stuff. ;)

05-20-2003, 10:50 PM
Beautiful! More Roots and Culture!